I will be graduating with my BSN in nursing in December and I am very interested in travel nursing. Are there any agencies that would accept me as a new graduate?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
I too knew even before graduation that I wanted to be a travel nurse. However, I also knew that I would need at least some experience before doing so. The norm used to be a year, but now many agencies require two years because hospitals are demanding the best qualified travelers. Regardless of what the agencies require, travel nursing is NOT a profession that you should take on without experience. A previous post on this site shows why:
I also write a monthly column for Healthcare Traveler Magazine where I also dedicated a piece to this question:
I also had a similar question recently and some of that response certainly fits here:
I have always contended that “on the road” is nowhere to gain your nursing skills (things such as IV, NG, and Foley insertions, plus time management skills). Triage is also a skill you will start to acquire in your first year. What would you do if you were in the middle of a complex dressing change only to have your tech tell you that Mrs Jones is slurring her words or Mr Smith is having a pressure in his chest (hopefully not both at the same time, but stranger things have happened). Travelers are expected to operate very independently. What would your steps be in the situation above? What if it were two patients with those problems at once? Which patient would you see first? What if there were no other nurses to help and the charge nurse was off the floor?
In this situation, you might very well have NO backup as a traveler. In nursing school, you always had an instructor to answer questions and guide you. Further, no hospital is going to hire you as a new grad and just throw you out on the floor to work. You will be mentored by someone as you start your nursing practice. This is not something you get as a traveler.
I want to further caution that with so many travel companies out there, you might possibly find one that would find you a travel assignment. However, if you were to take that assignment, you would be gambling with your nursing license.
What if there were an incident while you were on assignment? Do you have years of hospital based experience to fall back on? Since one or two years of hospital based experience is the “norm” in the world of travel, how do you think it would look in a court of law if you were traveling with less experience than is normally required? Who would back you? You are just a temporary employee at the hospital, so it is doubtful they would come to your aid. Are you traveling with a reputable company that would have your back? (the same company that tried to push the boundaries to get you into that assignment). If anything were to happen while you were on assignment, you have to think about how you would be viewed in the eyes of the legal system. Is it worth it to try to take a short cut when it could end up costing you your license?
I do hope that you understand the tone of my response. It is not to dissuade you from becoming a travel nurse; it is to dissuade you from becoming a travel nurse without other nursing experience. I know that someday I will probably hear from someone that feels they “beat the system” because they found a travel company that put them to work right out of school. Does that mean we should then celebrate that person’s stupidity? Because if we do, then I fear that not far behind I will be hearing from another traveler that lost their license because they took the same gamble.
Get some experience, keep your passion for travel (it is a wonderful way to live), and read anything you can on travel nursing while you are gaining your experience. Travel nursing will still be here when you are ready.